How has 2002 been so far?

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“It’s been fine. We’re still moving products, and we’re still in business, but we don’t like the high fuel prices and all the government regulations, particularly the new engines they’re trying to impose.”
Lori Wood, accountant
Columbia Grain, Wellborn, Fla.

“2002 has been a very shaky year. The price of fuel and insurance has bitten into the bottom line. We can’t raise our rates in the middle of the week. Unfortunately, shippers don’t want to pay anymore. It’s been a very shaky year, and it’s still very critical right now. The costs have risen a lot more than any rate increases.”
Kevin Costello, owner
Strait Line Transport LTD, Newington, Conn.

“It’s been OK. It’s a little better than average, but nothing to write home about. We’re mail haulers for the government so it stays pretty steady.”
Bill Meuse, vice president of operations
Melba Express Inc., Woburn, Ma.

“It’s been busy, but we’re not making any money. The rates for health care and workman’s comp have not been too bad. Our rates haven’t gone up this year, but everything else is going up such as liability insurance and licensing.”
Bill Novak, dispatcher
Novak Trucking Service LLC, Laona, Wis.

“It’s been good for us. All these guys that have gone out of business haven’t hurt us at all.”
Ben Palmentere, vice president
Palmentere Bros. Cartage, Kansas City, Mo.

“Obviously we’re seeing an under capacity of trucks in the market and that is helping to raise rates, so this year is financially better for us. But there are still some key issues like insurance and fuel spiking up that have hurt our profits. I don’t think all carriers are out of the woods yet, but we’re beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Ed Ruhe, vice president of operations
Classic Carriers Inc., Versailles, Ohio

“It’s been very bad. We’re down about 40 percent. The reason is mainly because my fleet is associated with the steel industry. The decrease in steel prices has decreased the amount of jobs available. The good news is that just this month we started a new software program – or I should say, we finally went live with one – that will help us link all five steel plants together for more efficient scheduling and transportation.”
Michael Hamm, corporate transportation manager
Bouras Industries, South Plainfield, N.J.

“It’s been fair to good. All the problems of last year made us more aware of our expenses and our operating budget. It’s made us become better operators this year.”
Brad Moutrie, owner
Moutrie Trucking LLC, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

“It’s been up and down. There’s been a little bit more freight, but fuel prices and insurance have gone up.”
Boone Cummings, president
Vision Transportation, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

“We’ve had considerable growth, contrary to what we’ve been hearing in the industry. Even with a down economy, we’ve taken on more drivers and our retention level is several percentage points better than in previous years. Turnover was 40 to 45 percent last year, and it dropped to 38 percent this year with 375 drivers. We’ve been excited about that. We’ve also added more equipment. We haven’t taken delivery of the last 25 trucks yet, but we plan on adding up to 65 power units this year. This year has been good for us from a revenue standpoint, but from a profit standpoint, it’s still hard to get better rates. Some people question, then, “why the growth if the profits are not there?” We feel like we are positioning ourselves for when the signs turn around, we will be a more diversified company. Our market area has been hurt this year. It is the headquarters of several optical fiber companies. We were never big in that area, and we didn’t feel the pains that the general area felt. That market has affected three local companies, but since we were not participating in that freight, we didn’t feel it. In a down economy we have actually had quite a bit of growth.”
Dennis Dellinger, vice president
Cargo Transporters, Claremont, N.C.

“For us it’s better than last year. It’s been improving all along. Freight is up, and we had some increase in our customer base.”
Ray Hughes, vice president of transportation
Warehouse Associates, Transportation division,
Lima, Ohio